Moeen Ali revealed that the embarrassment that followed his dismissal to Yasir Shah in the first Test at Lord’s was the catalyst for his current purple patch with the bat, culminating in the almighty six off the Pakistan leg-spinner that brought up his third Test hundred.
Following his stumping off Yasir during the fourth innings of the series-opening defeat last month, Moeen decided to redouble his efforts and, after tightening up his defence with the batting coach Mark Ramprakash, has seen his form return, starting with two half-centuries in the win at Edgbaston.
Coming in after lunch on the opening day of the fourth Test at The Oval with the score a precarious 110 for five, his 108 from 152 balls rescued England’s first innings, adding 93 with Jonny Bairstow and 79 with Chis Woakes in their 328 all out before the late wicket of Sami Aslam from Stuart Broad saw the home side finish in the ascendancy.
“At Lord’s I wasn’t on it and I was embarrassed after my shot,” Moeen said. “I decided I need to bat properly, I was sick and tired of not scoring runs for England. I didn’t change a lot, it’s more the mindset. But I worked on my defence and when I’m happy in my defence I feel I can play well.”
Moeen was struck by a hostile first ball from Wahab Riaz that crashed into his helmet and then survived a dropped catch at third slip by Azhar Ali on nine off Mohammad Amir. But in partnership with Bairstow, who made 55 after being caught off a no-ball from Riaz, he began to turn the day around before Woakes, 45, and the tail chipped in.
He said: “I really enjoyed batting with Jonny, he gets me going. Getting hit on the head first ball, I had to wake up. I have been hit a few times but I’m used to it. I tried to sway back but I knew it was going to hit me. But I am really pleased to get a hundred. The guys all the way down the order batted really well with me.”
Moeen needed the No11, Jimmy Anderson, to hang around long enough to see him complete his third Test hundred – and one that takes his average to 97.16 batting at No7 – bringing up the milestone by depositing Yasir into the Peter May stand with an almighty hit.
“Once he came on I thought this was the over,” Moeen said. “I blocked a few to make them think I wasn’t going to go for it, then picked the ball, went on gut instinct, backed myself to clear the boundary and as soon as I hit it I knew it was six. I was really happy. It was a good connection.”
The 29-year-old all-rounder has been a frustrated No8 for the bulk of his 30 Tests and while he missed out on an evening out for the batsmen with the former England captain David Gower on Tuesday – “I changed my number recently and didn’t get the message” – he believes his growing knowledge at international level is starting to pay off.
He said: “I have got to thank the selectors and Alastair Cook. I wouldn’t have picked myself either at one stage – it was 50-50. But they stuck with me and that’s the good thing at the moment, we stick with players and you see the results. The guys need experience to get better.”
More experience may have prevented Alex Hales from taking to social media after the close of play, with the opener publicly querying the decision that saw him given out for six earlier in the day. He was given out on the field to a low catch by Yasir – a decision that remained due to inconclusive evidence to the contrary for the third umpire Joel Wilson – and later tweeted a picture of a replay that suggested it may have hit the ground first. He may yet get a tap on the shoulder from the match referee Richie Richardson.
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